The Saudi Arabian Water sector needs an immediate investment of approx. US$17 billion and over US$93 billion for the next 20 years.
Water sector in Saudi Arabia
The Saudi Arabian Water sector needs an immediate investment of approx. US$17 billion and
over US$93 billion for the next 20 years. This is needed in order to meet the high consumption
caused by rapid population and industrial growth.
Saudi Arabia is located in one of the most arid areas of the world. It is listed under the ‘absolute
water scarcity’ category (i.e. will not be able to meet its water needs by 2025) due to limited
natural resources (average rainfall is less than 70mm/year).
Sewage systems are in short supply in Saudi Arabia, existing in only 22 of the 106 municipal
Saudi Arabia’s demand for water is growing rapidly. Many of the water and sewage treatment
plants built in the late seventies are nearing the end of their useful work life and the growing
population is making the capacity of these plants insufficient to meet demand. Massive
investments are needed to upgrade or replace the existing water desalination plants,
water/wastewater treatment plants and potable/sewerage networks. More investment is needed to
build new systems to meet the spiralling demand for drinking water and for sewage treatment.
The water and wastewater sector in Saudi Arabia currently faces a number of key challenges:
ξ Historically, certain utilities, particularly wastewater, have suffered from years of under-
investment. In addition, human resource capabilities require upgrading, mainly in
commercial and customer services skills.
ξ Current water supply tariffs are among the lowest and production/transportation costs
among the highest in the world.
ξ Average per capita consumption in Saudi Arabia is in excess of 280 litres per person per
ξ UFW (unaccounted-for water) ranges between 30 and 55%, and leakage between 30 to
ξ Inadequate amount of basic information, e.g. leakage rates, metering performance, state of
water networks, infrastructure, etc.
ξ At 3.8%, Saudi Arabia has one of the world’s fastest rates of population growth; at least
50% of the current population is below the age of 15. Coupled with the current rapid
economic growth, water demand in the country is rapidly increasing (by 6% annually).
ξ Total potable water supply is approx. 5.72 million cubic metres per day, whilst the current
requirement is over 6.5 million cubic metres per day.
In order to deal with these challenges, the Government has embarked on a process of reform and
has defined a vision for the future that would enable the country to have a world class utility
Saudi Arabia’s current state spending (2011/12) includes SR30 billion (US$8 billion) for new
water, sewage and desalination projects. The following are some other specific business
opportunities in the Saudi Arabian water sector:
ξ Construction of desalination plants.
ξ Construction of treatment plants and desalination of well water.
ξ Laying conveyance pipelines.
ξ Expanding of Water distribution network
ξ Expanding of wastewater networks.
ξ Wastewater treatment plants.
ξ Developing strategic reservoirs and emergency distribution systems.
Latest export opportunities in the Environment & Water sector
Latest export opportunities in Saudi Arabia
Getting into the market
Find general information on the Saudi Arabian market conditions on UKTI’s website. The Doing
Business Guide for Saudi Arabia gives an overview of Saudi Arabia’s economy, business
culture, potential opportunities and an introduction to other relevant issues.
More about doing business in Saudi Arabia
Market intelligence is critical when doing business overseas, and UKTI can provide bespoke
market research and support during overseas visits though our chargeable Overseas Market
Introduction Service (OMIS).
To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists
in country - or contact your local international trade team.
Omar Saeed, British Consulate-General, Jeddah. Tel: +966 (2) 622 5550 or email:
firstname.lastname@example.orgContact your local international trade team
UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to
overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows.
Latest events in the Environment and Water sector
Saudi Water & Power Forum
Date: 02 – 04 December 2012
Website address: www.ksapf.com
Gulf Environment Forum
Date: 14 - 16 April 2013
Website address: www.gulfenvironmentforum.com
More about OMIS and other UKTI services for exporters